Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Del Lords ride into NYC on a summer storm after 23 years

6/29/13 15:50

I checked the Del Lords site and saw…drum roll please by the drum master…Frank Funaro…The Del Lords were playing Thursday at Bowery Electric, their first NYC appearance in 23 years.  To be fair the band played a couple of years back in the city at the now closed historic Lakeside Club, but that night the band played under the thin veil as rumors swirled… The Elvis Club.  That show and another at a house party in Rhode Island was a prelude for a summer/ Spanish tour back in 2010.  I bought my ticket for Bowery Electric and you know the deal, who wants to go email was sent out to the likely candidates, can’t do it, not permitted, hosting a training session…hold everything; it’s The Del Lords in New York city, it’s like July 1984 came swirling in with the rains and humidity and like a blast of the past.  After getting a veggie sandwich and a homemade lemonade from the vendor, I headed over to the club and went down stairs.  The place was packed, but I saw Frank setting up and went over to say Hi.  Frank grew up around the corner from me and would tell his sister Jill to tell me whenever the band played on Long Island.  I saw a few times, Sparks in Huntington.  Waited outside Horse Feathers in East Northport, and saw them play The Ritz and of course the classic night The Del Lords opening for The Smithereens at Fordham.  So, when I saw Frank and called out to him, he gave me a thumbs up.  I made my way to the bar; climbing up steps and then back down to the floor with the pint in glass, found a place next to a rustic brick wall.  The place was jammed with thin and worn men and women with grey hair and sagging breasts, faded tattoos, but there was a spirit in the room that was undeniable, an excitable resonance for our old hearts and ears, the secret was out… The Del Lords are back. The men walked down a stair case and took their positions on the stage…Scott said, “How’s everyone doing?  It’s been a long time…” and the crisp music blared amongst calls of, “We missed you!”  “Welcome back!”
The Del Lord’s voices were strong and I was impressed with Eric Ambel taking the lead vocals as well as incredible licks as the lead guitarist.  Their sound is fuller, more mature and there was an ease on the stage, they enjoyed each other and could sense the energy as people danced and rocked their heads to pure American Rock and Roll…

Set List:
Drug deal
I’m gomna be around
Burning in the flame of love
When the drugs kick in
Poor man
Judas kiss
Me and the lord blues
About you
Get tough
I play the drums
Encore: heaven and southern pacific

I hung out with Frank for awhile, even helping to take some of his equipment to back stage.  Frank introduced me to Eric and Mike DuClos their new bassist, as well as to Scott and mentioned to them I grew up a 100 yards from his house and I saw the band way back in the day.  I hope the day doesn’t set for this band, hope they keep on down this road they’re heading on and making taking on more fans.  On the way home I listened to their new album, The Elvis show.  The album is diverse and sets their music on different roads.  It’s stripped down more than their heavily produced albums from more than twenty years ago. This gem opens up with the catchy, When the Drugs Kick in…Here I go….here I go again…as if they didn’t stop playing or partying since 1990.  I was impressed with countdown and the slide guitar on Chicks man, I assume that’s Eric on the slide.  Flying which is also very catchy, “Everyone loves a winner, till they get too big…”  Scott sings an emotionally, “All of my Life”…I put out that fire before it starts…the Buddy Hollyish pop Everyday….which has the band singing back up which was their unique sound.  Me and The Lord Blues sounds like a heavy metal song and is different from the other songs on the album, “Where is my God of Mercy…is killing me…” The slow Mississippi drawl of You can make a Mistake one time, carries on the heavy load of distorted feedback as if they recorded this on one take in a grungy basement…save me from myself…one time…she told me my very existence was a sin…while Frank taps a steady beat with a click clack…then there is the easy listening Silverlake, it’s just a matter of time. The album closes with a powerful rendition of Neil Young’s Southern Pacific.  This album is the what you want to listen to when you're driving on the highway, taking the family out on a long drive and you can slip into the streams and watch steam rising off the road.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

It was the first and last time We Were Promised Jetpacks played at Maxwells

6/16/13 19:09 Home

On Friday night Amanda said the band responded to her and she and one guest were on their guest list at Maxwells.  I have to give her credit, she is persistent.  I am feeling the pain of a long night, sitting in the room half awake and sore from playing three hours of basketball with the guys from work yesterday morning.  What time do they go on? I asked.  She checked – the doors open at 10 PM.  What?  Yeah, there is another band playing there at 7 PM.  We left the house at 6:45. I figured we’d get to Hoboken, get something to eat and walk around the city before we went inside.  I don’t like tunnels, as some may know, but the traffic was light as we drove under the East and Hudson rivers.  I am getting used tunnels and don’t avoid them like I used to.   In Hoboken, I bought some cheap Jersey gas and parked the car and we walked to Maxwells.  Hoboken has some beautiful brownstones, young families walking with strollers and little kids who were cheerful on their scooters ringing their bells.  We both liked the quaint town and found Maxwells.  There they are, Amanda said.  Let’s go and thank them.  I don’t want to.  We walked in behind them and said thank you to Mike who was getting some cash at an ATM machine, he said something cheerful. We were seated next to a window.  The band ate in the center of the dining room.  Finally, I walked up to Sean who turned around and said, “Hey Mike, you’re here.”   I was surprised he remembered my name and I asked if I can buy them a round.  He thanked me and said they were planning to go to another pub before the sound check.  “Amanda is on the other side of the wall if you’d like to say hello.  Sure.   He came over and asked where we were from, Long Island.  I reminded him of speaking to Amanda on her birthday and he said he remembered as well as meeting us in Philadelphia.  I didn’t know we were going on so late, he said sort of apologizing for a late night.  No worries.  So, you’re leaving tomorrow?  Yeah, after tonight we’re going to Brooklyn and spending the night there and then flying out.   Mo Cheeks and I took a walk down to the river to see the city, it was a clear night and I pointed out the marquee in Times Square.  We walked on slabs for a sidewalk, a tree laded street, a quiet neighborhood with gates and brown stones.  The homes were pristine.  This is why the market is so high within Hoboken, it’s a beautiful city.  We went in and took our spots a few rows back.  At 11 PM, the lights flickered and the band strolled through the packed crowd and walked onto the stage.  Random thoughts like this could be my last show at Maxwells since it's closing for good in weeks, who were the guests who will play with them, is that pot I smell?  What?  The scent of beer and a brown haired girl with straight hair…they are on.  The stage is smaller than Stony Pony, the drum set is up against the back wall.  Sean still moved as best he could and had an intense glare at times, Mike on lead strummed with closed eyes and leaned down a few times as he played.  What a full sound emanated from his speakers, I honed in on him.  The sellout crowd was at times boisterous, like the guy who double fisted his beers and told everyone around he was buying them a drink.  “What are you drinking?  He called out after most songs.  Scotland!  And there were times when the crowd sounded like a choir as we sang in broken beer drenched voices with Adam.  Their first and last night playing at Maxwell's, the last night in America on this short tour and this was a show they wanted us to remember.  After the first couple of songs, Adam asked if the the stage light shining on his face from the low ceiling could be turned off.  Once it was darkened…night crept onto the stage, their speakers and machines were dotted by tiny colored lights like stars in a clear night.  The band appeared like dim shadows against the dark back drop.   It became even more intimate in the room for all of us.  And like a snap of a finger Adam thanked the audience for coming and the band went into It’s thunder and it’s lightening…the show was over.    Amanda is now recognized; Adam saw her after the set and called out to her.    Darren, their drummer recognized her as well and thanked her for coming.  We spoke to Mike for a couple of minutes since Amanda wanted to say thank you again to Sean.  I asked Mike when is their next release?  He said it’s a live album which they working on…once that is released they’d be back in the states for another tour.   And we will be there for at least two nights.  This morning I pulled the car into the driveway at 2:30, slowly with sore muscles I got out and looked up at the clear sky; the stars were out and it was all worth it, Amanda was happy.  I am one cool dad this Father's day morning.

Driving in the rain to see We Were Promised Jetpacks at The Stone Pony 6/13/13

I heard the weather was not as bad as expected, the flooding would be minimal.  Still, through the rains and at times pounding and torrential... Amanda and I made it safely to Asbury Park, NJ in good time from Port Jefferson.  We paid for parking on the street and walked inside.  The Stony Pony has a large stage, a sound man on the right and the engineer – in the back of the room - moving the controls.   It was packed with fans that watched and danced to the first band, The Static Jacks who were very good, their lead singers dancing reminded me a little of Morrissey.  Amanda saw Sean the bassist hanging out at the bar and she asked someone to take a picture of them.  Both of us are getting to know We Were Promised Jetpacks a little more.  I’d say.  This was the first time she met the whole band since Adam and Mike were close by with beers in hand and I took her picture with them.  The whole band is very nice. They are not what I’d expect from young rock stars, they don’t get drunk or have women hanging all over them which helps me when Amanda says she wants to marry their bassist Sean.   Their set was only about a half hour and they were prompt to get on stage, I told Sean after he removed his ear plugs that The Stone Pony was a popular landmark, Springsteen played there as well as Bon Jovi.  “Did you see we are playing with them?”  He asked.  I did.  I took my place in the back of the venue to watch the crowd’s reaction.  There were some older fans like myself wearing WWPJP t-shirts who like me bobbed their heads and sang along.  I was impressed with the way the crowd surged and danced.   I watched three men high five each other the moment they recognized what song was being played.  Adam’s voice was strong, he walked around the stage, strummed his guitar and sung with closed eyes, thanked the crowd and Ra Ra Riot for having them.  One song they did which has not been released is Peace Sign. After they played they cleared the stage of their equipment.  Mike gave Amanda the set list.  We asked about the show at Maxwells which was sold out, and if there was a way they’d put us on their guest list.  I know, it's bold,   Amanda also asked Sean and each said to send them a message on Twitter and they’d see if they can do it, but since it was so close to New York City...they were promises.  It was late and we saw who we wanted to and left before seeing Ra Ra Riot.  We drove back home, back in the heavy rain, through floods and thick puddles and made it back at a decent hour...12:30…I was up five hours later for work...back into the grind.

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